Press/Journalists

Press Release
March 2, 2005

"Americans in Paris" Opens at the National Archives May 27th - September 5th

Washington, DC. . . The National Archives announces its new exhibition "Americans in Paris" will open on Friday, May 27th in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery. The Archives presents "Americans in Paris" as part of the city-wide cultural tourism initiative known as "Paris on the Potomac." The exhibition which is free and open to the public will be on display through Labor Day, Monday, September 5, 2005. The National Archives is located on the National Mall on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. Beginning on Memorial Day weekend, summer hours will be 10 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. daily.

For more than two centuries Americans have been drawn to Paris, on missions of commerce and diplomacy, in scientific and cultural pursuits, in voyages of pleasure and in the necessities of war. Records in the National Archives (treaties and films and letters and photos) document many of these journeys.

The exhibition begins with a letter from Benjamin Franklin and the original Treaty of Alliance in the American Revolution and culminates with Henry Kissinger and the Paris Peace Accords. Each case features records and images of Americans, ordinary and famous, whose lives intersected with the City of Light. The exhibition reveals the secret correspondence of the Union ambassador as he competes with his Confederate counterpart for the favor of Napoleon III. Visitors can journey to the Paris Exhibition of 1878, where Edison and Bell received medals for their inventions. Harry Truman's doughboy uniform will be on display along with instructions on proper behavior for soldiers in the city. See Paris through the eyes of Hemingway as he drafts memoirs of his life in Paris, or through the authors of Yank magazine after the 1944 liberation. Sample the exceptional film holdings of the National Archives, including rare silent footage of hospital entertainers in World War I, a newsreel of Lindbergh's flight and USIA coverage of Jackie Kennedy's triumphal tour of the city.

A full slate of related speaker and film programs in May will complement the exhibit:

The programs are free and open to the public and will take place in the William G. McGowan Theater. To verify the date and times of the programs, the public should call the Public Programs Line at: 202-501-5000 before April 15 (then use 202-357-5000 thereafter), or view the Calendar of Events on the web at: www.archives.gov/about_us/calendar_of_events/index.html

Wednesday, May 11
Stacy Schiff will discuss her book, A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France and the Birth of America. Schiff draws from new and little-known sources to illuminate the least-explored part of Benjamin Franklin's life. A Great Improvisation presents the story of Franklin’s Parisian adventures and treacherous backroom dealings at Versailles—the eight year mission that ultimately bankrolled the Revolution and secured American independence. 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 18
Journalist Stanley Karnow will talk about his book Paris in the Fifties. In July 1947, fresh out of college and long before he would win the Pulitzer Prize and become known as one of America's finest historians, Karnow boarded a freighter bound for France, planning to stay for the summer. He stayed for ten years, first as a student and later as a correspondent for Time magazine. Paris in the Fifties transports readers to Latin Quarter cafes and basement jazz clubs, to unheated apartments and glorious ballrooms. 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 19
Tyler Stovall, Paris Noir: African-Americans in the City of Light. This comprehensive look at black Americans' historical affection for Paris in the 20th century covers literary figures like Richard Wright, entertainers like Josephine Baker and jazz musicians like Sidney Bechet and Kenny Clarke, as well as black academics, scientists and businessmen who found new lives in Paris. 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 25
Melanie Randolph Miller will discuss her book, Envoy to the Terror: Governeur Morris and the French Revolution. Miller’s book is the first in-depth study of Morris’ time in France (1789-94), as she brings to life the fascinating and dangerous intrigues of the French Revolution and Morris’ role in one of the most important periods of America’s early diplomatic history. Noon.

Wednesday, May 25
Adam Gopnik will discuss his book, Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology. Including stories, letters, memoirs, and journalism, Americans in Paris distills three centuries of vigorous, glittering, and powerfully emotional writing about the place that Henry James called "the most brilliant city in the world." 5:30 p.m.

Friday, May 13
Greta Shiller's 1996 documentary "Paris Was a Woman" explores the lives of influential American women artists and writers who lived in Paris in the early twentieth century. 7:00 p.m.

Friday, May 20
Charles Guggenheim's documentary, "The Making of Liberty" tells the story of the building and rebuilding of the Statue of Liberty, a monument embodying the American experience, as seen through the eyes of the French and American artisans and laborers whose work was separated by a century, but whose vision transcended time. Noon.

Friday, May 27-Opening Night
The 1951 classic film "An American in Paris" with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. A GI (Gene Kelly) stays in Paris after the war to become an artist, and has to choose between the patronage of a rich American woman (Nina Foch) and a French gamine (Leslie Caron) engaged to an older man. Director Vincente Minnelli to pools his own extraordinary talent with those of choreographer-dancer-actor Kelly and the artists behind the screenplay, art direction, cinematography, and score, creating a rapturous musical not quite like anything else in cinema. 7:00 p.m.

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-501-5526.

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